How to choose a company for a Fall Heating System Tune-up

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Last updated: 
October 18, 2011

With summer over and winter just around the corner it is once again time to think about getting your furnace cleaned and tuned before old man winter arrives.  Many homeowners may already have some type of ongoing maintenance agreement that provides them with an air conditioning tune up in the spring and a heating tune up in the fall for a flat fee.  In addition maintenance plan holders generally receive some additional benefits like priority service, discounts on parts and labor, no after-hours fees etc.  Whether or not you have a maintenance agreement you would be well served by having your furnace cleaned and tuned.  Research shows that clean, well maintained equipment runs less, which prolongs its life, operates more efficiently, which saves you money,  and above all else is safer, which gives you something money can’t buy, peace of mind.

Buyer beware

How do you pick a trustworthy HVAC contractor to service your furnace?  First off lets start by saying the majority of mechanical contractors are honest and reputable it's the one percent that we want to help you avoid. Obviously everybody has different areas of concern that are important to them, so we'll go over some general things that should be important to everyone. Let common sense be your guide and away we go.

Some key points:

Don’t confuse a cheapo, quickie $29.99 (or less) clean and check where the technician is in and out of your house in 20 minutes or less, with a thorough cleaning, inspection and tune-up.

The technician should spend between 60-90 minutes per furnace. A complete cleaning and tune up of a furnace cannot be done properly if the tech spends less than 60 minutes on site. Confirm this with the companies call taker when you set your appointment.

This type of service is not cheap, but when done properly you will receive a return on your investment. This is where the old saying “you get what you pay for" comes to mind.  Also a good time to remember anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.

In today’s world when you consider the average service companies cost (salary, overhead, truck expense, benefits, insurance, taxes, etc.) just to have  a technician show up at your door is easily in the $60-$90 range, why would they only charge $19.99 or $29.99?  Is it because they are slow and the owner just wants to keep his techs busy because he’s a real sweet heart? I think not. The answer most likely is that they are using the cheapo clean and check as a loss leader to get their foot in the door and then rely on their trained “sales techs” to up sell you on parts, equipment and products that you most likely do not need or want. To understand this you must recognize that some HVAC  company owners believe that in order to maximize profits and grow they need to stop fixing things and focus on selling new equipment. They have turned to intense sales training for their technicians.

Some companies even fly sales trainers in for weeks at a time; some even have a company uniform waiting for the sales trainer and send them out in a truck with a technician for hands on training, in your home!

Final thought

Having personally witnessed these tactics I can say they are probably very similar to the type of training a car salesman would go through.  No offense to car salesman.  The difference is  when you’re on the car lot you assume the man or woman coming out to greet you is a sales person. Conversely, when the guy from the cheapo heat check flier shows up at your door and you assume he’s a service technician you may just have a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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